Spätzli has shown some signs of aging for the past couple of months. He’s now a little over 1 year and 7 months old. He had flaky and slightly scabby skin, so we took him to the vet. The vet insisted it was a bacterial infection and gave him antibiotics, plus an oral probiotic paste. At the same time, he was also treated for parasites even though there was no evidence of it.

After following the course of antibiotics, there was no improvement. I wasn’t convinced that there was anything more the vet could do besides extensive hormonal tests, so I just made little adjustments to his home, such as removing rough hay and sand, and trying to use only soft soil and tissue paper inside his house, where he spends most of his time rubbing against. I am also still feeding him the probiotic paste every other day, which I think is good in any case.

2014-07-24 12.31.222014-07-24 12.31.55His fur is becoming sparse in some areas, like the back of his neck. You can also see his dry ears. He does not look so bad in person, and he’s still quite active. I’ve just started rubbing a tiny bit of aloe vera gel on his ears and flaky areas, and I think it’s helping to relieve the dryness. I get to do this only once a day, so results are slow. I also don’t want to use too much in case he ingests it.

2014-07-19 22.09.02Here he is on my lap. I put him on a tea towel because he sometimes brings soil over from his cage or makes a small mess when he eats fresh corn on my lap. After his snack, he sometimes sleeps on me for an hour, and sometimes only for 10 minutes or less. He tells me when he would like to go home by climbing onto and putting all four feet on my palm. If I put him down, he’ll do it again, and that’s when I’m sure that he wants to go home. I find that too cute. ^-^ It’s definitely something he came up with, and he’s been using it since he first trusted me.

As you know by now, we have a hamster!
We originally wanted to have mice, so they could fit into the smaller Ferplast cages. However, we could not find any mice to adopt. It is not a pet that is popular in Zurich. We even looked for breeders, but there were none. So, we chose the next best: a Syrian hamster. They live alone, which is a plus. Even though I wanted a pet, I didn’t want to be overrun like before.

Originally, I wanted to get one from a breeder, but I have no idea why we ended up choosing from a pet store instead. It was probably impatience! I did not know he was not tamed, until I saw him try to bite the shop assistant’s hand. Oops…. but it was too late to change our minds. We adopted Spätzli on 4th February, and had to work hard to get him to trust us, or rather, me. I deal with him the most. 😀 He is black and white with short hair, and he was already 7 weeks old at the time of adoption.

Spätzli the hamster

At first, the very sound of my voice scared him. Then, changes in my voice scared him. After that, my angry voice scared him when he bit me. He slowly got used to me, but still didn’t like being picked up. I bribed him with treats of fresh veggies and almond pieces, and only gave them to him when he sat on my hands. If he did not let me hold him, there would be no treats.

Late night excursion

Fast forward five weeks, and we have one tamed little cutie that really has an odd schedule. He would only get up after 12 midnight, and would be in bed by 8.30 in the morning. Since I am no early riser, I wait until after midnight to see him. I change his dry food and water just before midnight, so these noises wake him up gently. If I have to do some cleaning of his cage, I would wake him up earlier by lifting his house. It’s evil and I don’t like doing it, but I cannot clean his place at 12 in the morning! It’s a good thing he doesn’t really soil his home like rats and mice would. I just need to change his tissue paper bedding and perhaps scoop out a bit of his litter. He is the cleanest pet I have ever had.

Spätzli's new interior. Such a fun space now! He has a new bigger house too.

That brings me to the topic of his litter. I did some reading, and found that using soil is very effective in cutting down smells. Others have tried it with good results. The soil absorbs urine and masks smells, just like in nature. Of course one can’t use garden soil because of all the insects and fertilisers present. What I use is compressed soil blocks you can get at the reptile section of the pet store. I used Plantation Soil by Exo Terra. I expanded the bricks with water, then partially dried off the soil by airing some in broad, shallow containers. Baking would be faster and better since it also kills insects and germs, but it requires much more work, and you could potentially end up with a dirty oven. I give my little guy a lice, mite and worm treatment, so I’m not too troubled by simply air-drying the soil. I also mix his soil litter with bark and wood chips, which seems to work fine too.

We also got a Wodent Wheel for him, which he absolutely loves. He uses it every night after our play time. He is a pro runner!

New wodent wheel for Spätzli

Playing the guinea pigI also give him back rubs while he lays on my lap. He loves it! It’s so fun to see him stretch, yawn and grind his teeth while on my lap.
In the above photo, you can see he has the cutest little lower jaw which is white, while the rest of his head is black. To me, this makes him look like a little guinea pig! <3

Here is one last flattering midnight photo of Spätzli, but not so flattering for me:

SpätzliI find it too cute when he looks at my phone while I take pictures! He’s become quite photogenic after only a short time.